Elections by Congregation

This page contains information about Congregation, University bodies with representatives elected by Congregation, and links to the legislation governing these elections.

What is Congregation?

Congregation is the sovereign body of the University. For more information visit our Congregation section.

The functions and powers, definition of membership and procedure of business, of Congregation are set out in:

Further information is available on the A brief history and overview of the University's governance arrangements.

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These are elections to places on University bodies (or to offices, such as the Public Orator) where the eligibility to vote is defined by membership of Congregation. With very few exceptions, eligibility to stand as a candidate is also defined by membership of Congregation. In some cases, such as the election of the Public Orator or the Benefices Delegates, eligibility to stand as a candidate is open to all members of Convocation but only members of Congregation are entitled to vote. In other cases, for example, in elections to Divisional or Faculty boards, the eligibility to participate is restricted to a sub-set of Congregation (i.e. membership of one or more faculties, sub-faculties or divisions).

Eligibility to participate in an election by Congregation is checked against the electronic register of Congregation, which is managed by the Congregation Membership Administrator, Planning and Council Secretariat.

The composition of each University body is determined by the University legislation and will change if the legislation is changed. As of MT 2019, there are about 150 places elected by Congregation on the following bodies:

  • Council of the University
  • Visitors of the Ashmolean Museum
  • Audit and Scrutiny Committee
  • Delegacy for Nomination of Candidates for Ecclesiastical Benefices (Benefices Delegacy)
  • Visitors of the Botanic Garden
  • Buildings and Estates Subcommittee
  • Curators of the University Libraries
  • Delegacy for Military Instruction
  • Nominations Committee
  • Curators of the University Parks
  • Committee for the Nomination of Select Preachers
  • Curators of the Sheldonian Theatre
  • Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee
  • Nominating Committee for the Vice-Chancellorship
  • Visitatorial Board Panel

Divisional Boards:

  • Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Board
  • Medical Sciences Board
  • Social Sciences Board
  • Continuing Education Board

Faculty Boards:

  • Classics, Board of the Faculty of
  • English Language and Literature, Board of the Faculty of
  • History, Board of the Faculty of
  • Law, Board of the Faculty of
  • Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics, Board of the Faculty of
  • Medieval and Modern Languages and Literatures, Board of the Faculty of 
  • Music, Board of the Faculty of
  • Oriental Studies, Board of the Faculty of
  • Philosophy, Board of the Faculty of

The terms of reference for each body will be set out in the University Statutes and Regulations, which can be searched on-line.

Membership lists are published in the annual University Calendar and on the University website. There is a committee A-Z on the Staff Gateway with links to specific membership lists which are maintained locally.

The Council Secretariat also has a useful index page of Committees reporting to Council with links to both the current membership and the legislation relevant to remit, composition and related matters for each committee.

The composition of individual bodies (including constituencies of elected members), and electoral procedures are set out in the University Statutes and Regulations.

Election procedures are set out in:

General eligibility criteria which apply to all members of committees are found in:

There are three types of eligibility to participate in an election by Congregation:

  • as a candidate, nominated to stand for election;
  • as a nominator, formally nominating someone else to stand for election; and
  • as a voter.

Candidates and nominators are also eligible to vote in the election in which they hold these roles. However, a candidate cannot nominate himself or herself for election (the minimum number of nominators is four and the maximum is 10, excluding the candidate). A nominator may only nominate a candidate for election if he or she is also eligible to vote in that election (i.e. you may not nominate a candidate if you are not eligible to vote in that election).

A candidate may not be nominated to more than one constituency on the same committee at the same time. This is a long-standing practice because of the difficulties that could occur if a candidate were to stand in more than one category – on the one hand, a candidate might split their own vote (and not be elected to either place) or, on the other, be elected to both positions.

The specific requirements of each election, as set out in the legislation pertaining to the body, are published in the notice of vacancy for election. Some example texts are given in the table below:

Example text (from the notice of vacancy)

Who is eligible to be a...Candidate

... Nominator

... Voter

"a member of Congregation elected by and from Congregation"

Open to all members of Congregation who meet the general requirements of all committee members (i.e. they are postholders and, if seeking re-election, they have not exceeded the maximum number of consecutive terms of office: see additional eligibility criteria below)

Open to all members of Congregation

Open to all members of Congregation

"a member of Congregation elected by Congregation from members of the faculties in the Divisions of Humanities and of Social Sciences"

Open to members of the named divisions only who meet the general requirements of all committee members (see below)

Open to all members of Congregation

Open to all members of Congregation

"a person elected by and from among the members of the division of Humanities"

Open to members of the named division only who meet the general requirements of all committee members (see below)

Open to members of the named division only

Open to members of the named division only

"a person elected by and from among the members of the Faculty of Philosophy"

Open to members of the named faculty only who meet the general requirements of all committee members (see below)

Open to members of the named faculty only

Open to members of the named faculty only

"one member of Convocation, elected by Congregation"

Open to all members of Convocation (n.b. in the case of election to a University body, who also meet the general requirements of all committee members - see below)

Open to all members of Congregation

Open to all members of Congregation

In addition to the specific requirements published in the notice of vacancies, prospective candidates are also asked to note the following general requirements (with respect to postholder status and consecutive terms of office) which apply to all committee members, as set out in

Council Regulations 14 of 2002 (Part 1: General Regulations of Council for Committees):

Requirement to be a postholder

1.2.(1): No person appointed, elected or serving as a member of a committee while holding any academic post of the University or any other of the University or college posts specified in section 3 (6)-(9) of Statute IV shall continue to serve on that committee after having retired from that post (or, in the case of a person retiring at different dates from those University and college posts previously held by him or her, after the date of the later of those retirements), unless the General Purposes Committee of Council or, in cases falling within the Personnel Committee's delegated authority or cases concerning the membership of the General Purposes Committee, the Chair of the Personnel Committee, shall otherwise determine in an individual case.

1.2.(2): No person who has previously retired from any of the university or college posts specified in section 3 (6)-(9) of Statute IV, and who does not continue to hold another such post, shall be appointed or elected a member of a committee, unless the General Purposes Committee of Council or, in cases falling within the Personnel Committee's delegated authority or cases concerning the membership of the General Purposes Committee, the Chairman of the Personnel Committee, shall otherwise determine in an individual case.

The sub-groups specified in section 3 (6)-(9) of Statute IV, referred to above, are: the heads of all the colleges, societies, and Permanent Private Halls referred to in Statute V (section 3 (6)); the members of the governing bodies of all the colleges and societies referred to in Statute V (but not of the Permanent Private Halls) (section 3 (7)); the principal bursar or treasurer of each of the colleges and societies referred to in Statute V (but not of the Permanent Private Halls), if he or she is not a member of its governing body (section 3 (8)); and any other persons or classes of persons admitted by or under regulations made by Congregation (section 3 (9)). The persons listed in Congregation Regulation 1 of 2002 includes: (1) the Deputy Steward; (2) the Public Orator; (3) the Keeper of the Archives; (4) the Warden of Rhodes House; (5) the Director of the Maison Francaise; (6) the Secretary to the Delegates and Chief Executive of the University Press; (7) the Finance Director of the University Press; (8) the Tutors in Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art; (9) the Emeritus Professors who are under the age of 75 years; (10) all persons working in any university department or institution who hold posts on, or assessed as equivalent to, grades 8 and above; and (11) such other persons as Council shall determine (currently listed in Annexe E of Council Standing Orders, available as a pdf on the About Council webpage).

Limitations of consecutive terms of office 

Part 2: General Regulations for Committees Reporting Directly to Council or to one of its Main Committees, particularly regulations 1.1.(4)-1.1.(6):

2.2.(4) In the absence of provision in these regulations or Council Regulations 15 of 2002 to the contrary, appointed, elected, co-opted and student members shall serve no more than two consecutive full terms of office. Casual terms of office shall not count towards this limit. (5) In the absence of provision to the contrary, an appointed, elected, co-opted or student member of a committee of Council, who has served two consecutive full terms of office under regulation (4) above, shall not be eligible to serve as an appointed, elected, co-opted or student member of that committee until a full term of office on that committee has passed from the end of his or her period of service. (6) Notwithstanding regulations (4) and (5) above, in the case of appointed, co-opted and student members, the General Purposes Committee of Council or, in cases falling within the Personnel Committee's delegated authority or cases concerning the membership of the General Purposes Committee, the Chair of the Personnel Committee, may determine that one further consecutive period is permitted in an individual case.

Similar limitations of consecutive terms of office may be found in the legislation governing individual bodies. Candidates who wish to stand for re-election are asked to check the relevant legislation to ascertain whether or not they are eligible to stand.

With respect to these elections, it will not be practicable for GPC to make a determination of eligibility prior to the close of the nomination period because the timing of election deadlines (as set out in the legislation governing elections by Congregation - see above) will conflict with GPC meeting dates.

From MT 2013, all candidates will be asked to confirm their eligibility to serve (under the University legislation) as part of the signed declaration on the official nomination form. This means confirmation of their status a) as a current postholder within the University b)who will not have exceeded the maximum consecutive terms of office by the end of term advertised.

Contact the Elections Officer


For further information, please email Shirley Mulvihill.

University of Oxford elections


For general information on the election(s) to a specific committee see this list

or, select the constituency from the list below

 
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